Monday, September 15, 2008

Seasoned Shoestring Fries

1 Idaho Potato
1 Cup Peanut Oil

2 TBSP Ground Cumin
1 TBSP Chili Powder
½ TBSP Onion Powder
1/8 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ Tsp Salt
¼ Tsp Ground Black Pepper

Combine all the spices in a bowl and set aside.

Peel the potato and cut into 1/8 inch wedges, then 1/8 inch slices. Place in a large bowl of cold water and 2 TBSP salt. Let soak at least ½ an hour.

Heat oil in a large pan until the chopstick method is sizzling.

In small batches, drain the potatoes on paper towels. Gently place in the hot oil and stir a little so they don’t stick together. Cook until they turn brown, then drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with some of the spices. Repeat cooking steps until all are cooked.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Green Peppercorn Pan Sauce for Steak

After you have removed the steak to a plate to keep warm in the oven, place your pan that you cooked the steak in back on a burner over a medium-high heat. Add one minced shallot and using a wooden spatula, stir the shallots over the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. After about a minute, add 1 cup of your favorite wine, or chicken broth if you prefer. It doesn't matter if it is a red wine or white wine or even champagne. As long as you like to drink it, it will taste fine. Continue to stir the shallots and the wine, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. The brown bits is called a "fond" and it's where all the flavor from cooking your steaks is. Not only does this flavor the sauce, but this method is called "de-glazing" and it actually makes the clean up easier, too! Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme leaves. The shallots and the thyme will add so much flavor to the sauce. If you prefer, you can use rosemary or another herb to make this sauce your own. You can also use fresh minced garlic or minced red onion in place of the shallots. My rule is to use whatever you like best to make it to your preference.

After a few minutes, the sauce will start to reduce. You are looking for it to reduce at least by half and start to get thicker, and less soupy like in appearance. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream. This will help bind the sauce and thicken it. Continue stirring for about another minute. Turn off the burner and season with fresh black pepper. Add 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley and about 10-12 green peppercorns. Taste to adjust salt and pepper as necessary.

If you don't like green peppercorns, substitute with capers, sauteed mushrooms or whatever you like. You can even add a tablespoon of dijon mustard, or lemon juice or a dash of good vinegar to make the sauce different.

Remove the steaks from the oven and pour any of the drippings from the steaks into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the steaks and serve.

Blue Cheese Sauce for Steak

This sauce is so simple to make. In a microwave proof dish, add about 2 tablespoons of blue cheese, or more if you desire. Add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream and 1/4th teaspoon of minced shallot. Add some fresh black pepper and place a loose piece of plastic over the top. Microwave for 40 seconds. Add 1 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley leaves. Pour over your steak.

Steak for Susan

Susan and I were talking the other day, and I told her I could tell her how to make a perfect steak with a pan sauce and since she's an accountant, I have a simple way for her to remember each step. Simply 4+4+4+4. Or the square root of 16. Pretty simple? Well, here are the steps:

Use any steak that you prefer, such as a New York Strip, or Rib Eye or whatever. I prefer Fillet Mignon as it has the lowest fat content. I also take extra steps to cut out as much of the fat and sinew on the tenderloin before cutting it into generous steaks. (Then I use the rest of the loin for other recipes.) You don't have to be as thorough in removing the fat as a lot of it will cook out. Wash and pat dry the steaks with paper towels and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Step 1: 4

Heat a non-stick pan on the stove on medium-high heat for 4 minutes.

Step 2: 4

Place your steaks in the pan and make sure they are not touching. Do not be tempted to move them around. Just let them sit so they will form a crust.

Step 3: 4

Leave the steaks for 4 minutes, then turn them to cook on the other side for another 4 not touch them.

Step 4: 4

Turn off the burner and place a loose piece of foil over the pan. Let the steaks sit for 4 more minutes. Then remove the steaks to a warm plate in a low oven while you make the pan sauce in the same pan.

Paul and I both love steak, but we like them served differently. The photo at the top of this post is how I love steak: a big piece with a quick blue cheese sauce and a vegetable, such as pan roasted asparagus.

Paul likes his sliced and I served his with the green peppercorn pan sauce in the next post. I also served his with seasoned shoestring french fries, a couple of pieces of pesto toast and some sauteed mushrooms.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ginger Mango Salsa

I created this recipe in April 2007 when my husband and I were given a week on my boss's 91' yacht, The KelDi, which we took from Miami to Key Largo, then to Key West. It's a beautiful boat with a terrific crew, including a great chef, Sean. My husband and I being the only passengers besides the crew, insisted that the crew eat with us each night. On the last night, Sean let me cook with him, which was a thrill for me. We joined our ideas and I came up with this salsa which I also served alongside a regular pico de gallo salsa for a "East Meets Mex" theme. Sean grilled up a rib eye and we served the salsas and some jasmine rice to keep the theme going.

This salsa goes terrific with any grilled meat - and don't forget to try it on fish!

Another hint, I also made this salsa in April 2008 at my boss's house on Martha's Vineyard "Daybreak" where Jude and I cooked for our husbands, much like Sean and I did the year previously. On the island, Jude couldn't find jicima, so I substituted 1/4 cup diced green apple and found it actually works better than the jicima. Last month while visiting my sister-in-law and her husband, Sheila and Ronnie, in Williamsburg, Virginia, I learned that my sister-in-law is pre-diabetic. My brother-in-law from England, John, was also visiting and he is diabetic so I left the honey out of the recipe and discovered that the apple and the mango sweetened it enough. The honey enhances the ginger, but feel free to leave it out.

2 Ripe Mangos, diced
¼ cup diced Red Onion
¼ cup diced Jicima (Can Substitute Green Apple)
1 diced Green Jalepeno Pepper, seeded (can substitute 1/8 cup minced canned Jalepenos)
1 cup minced Cilantro (leaves only)
¼ cup Fresh Lime Juice
½ tsp Honey
Salt and Pepper to taste

Core and dice the mango
Add to a large bowl
Dice Red Onion and add to the bowl
Dice the Jicima and add to the bowl

Cut the stem off the Jalepeno, and with a teaspoon, remove the seeds. Slince the Jalepeno into julienne pieces and dice. Add to the bowl.

Wash a bunch of Cilantro and remove the stems. Place on paper towels to dry. Remove the leaves from the remaining stems. Mince and add to the bowl.

Cut off any “fingers” on the Ginger. With your teaspoon, scrape off the skin of the Ginger. Grate the Ginger into a small bowl and pick out any long fibers. Add the Ginger to the large Bowl.

Cut a couple of limes into quarters.
Squeeze the juice into the large bowl. If the limes don’t exude much juice, place in microwave on a paper towel for about 30 seconds.

Add the honey, salt and pepper. Mix well. Cover and set aside for at least an hour for the juices to blend. Taste. Adjust honey, lime, salt and pepper as desired.

Serving suggestions:

Serve over grilled meat, fish; serve on top of chicken quesadillas triangles; marinate chicken or other meat in salsa. Or just enjoy with chips. I like to make a mango salsa then a pico de gallo and serve both side by side on grilled meat as an “East meets Mex” combination.

Update November 1:

I took this salsa and blended it. Then, using half the mixture (I doubled the recipe so I had plenty), I added about a 1/2 cup of orange juice and about 1 tablespoon of ground cumin. I used this as a marinade for a flank steak and 2 chicken breasts, which I marinaded for 24 hours before cooking them. The meat was delicious! I made them into quesidillas which I brought to work yesterday, and the girls loved it!

The second half of the blended salsa mixture, I added about 2 tablespoons of curry powder, and about 1 tablespoon of honey for a curry marinade, which I added half a beef tenderloin to. I am going to cook this as a curry today, so I will let you know how it comes out! Happy fall, and happy cooking! Tina